Anchoring Techniques at Sea

If you want to learn to sail like a pro, you will need to be able to use your sailboat anchor smooth and easy. Matter of fact, cruising sailboat folks report that they spend over 80% of their time at anchor.

That’s because they sail to the destination and then spend time ashore to shop, sight-see, travel, and mingle among the local folks. Follow these five sailing tips to make sure you can set your anchor deep into the seabed under engine power–wherever in the world you choose to cruise!

Think slow, smooth, and easy. Put those three actions into play anytime you want to lower and set your sailing anchor. Realize that this will be one of the few times you have to do something “blind”. As soon as you lower your anchor below the water surface, you will no longer have it in sight.

So, you will need to slow the pace of this sailing skill to make sure that the anchor and anchor rode (rope or chain) make it to the bottom without knots, twists, or snarls. And that once your anchor rests upon the bottom it will align itself to dig deep beneath the seabed and set safe and secure. Follow these five steps to anchor your small sailboat under engine power. And remember–slow, smooth, and easy!

1. Point Into the Elements and Drift

Align your bow so that you are pointed into the stronger of the two elements–wind or current. Stop all momentum (forward motion). Lower your anchor until it hangs straight up and down (called “short stay”), but has not yet touched the bottom. Allow the boat to drift aft with the elements or place your engine in astern propulsion at the slowest speed possible. Lower the anchor just enough so that it makes contact with the seabed. You will know this happens when the anchor rode (line or chain) becomes slack. Go to the next step.

2. Lower Anchor Rode Equal to Two-Times Water Depth.

Continue to drift or motor aster at the slowest speed possible. Veer (let out) about two times the water depth in anchor rode. Your anchor flukes should dig into the seabed and “take a bite”.

3. Snub the Rode to Get Your Anchor to “Take a Bite”.

Tug on a rope anchor rode a few times to get the anchor to set and hold. Set the anchor windlass brake to get the anchor to set and hold if you use all-chain anchor rode. Go to the next step.

4. Veer the Remainder of Your Anchor Scope.

Veer the rest of your calculated anchor scope. Use a scope of 7 feet of rope rode for each foot of water depth (7:1 scope) with rope or rope and chain anchor rode. Use at least 5 feet of chain rode for each foot of water depth (5:1 scope) with all-chain anchor rode.

There will be circumstances where this amount of scope will not be possible (i.e. crowded boat anchorages). Use the most scope possible to avoid the possibility of dragging anchor (the anchor pulls out of the sea bed). Cleat off your anchor rode or set the windlass brake (all-chain rode). Go to the next step.

5. Check That Your Anchor Holds.

Place the back of a hand or bottom of your foot on top of the anchor rode. Vibration means you are dragging. Veer (let out) more scope and test again. Continue this sequence until you no longer feel vibration. If necessary, weigh anchor (pull it out and bring it aboard) and move to a better spot or a different anchorage.

When you are satisfied that your anchor has set deep into the seabed, check your position with drag bearings. Drag bearings are used as a fast way to tell you if you start to drag anchor.

Choose an object off the port of starboard beam. This could be a pier, corner of a house or roof, building, tower, or a prominent tree, hill, or mountain peak. Take a bearing to the object with a hand-bearing compass. Record the bearing and object description in your boat log. Share this information with your sailing crew or partner so that all hands aboard are involved in sailing safety.

Check the bearing three to four times the first hour at anchor, and then at least once an hour afterwards. If the bearing changes by more than a degree or two, you are dragging. Veer scope or move to a more secure spot.

If the wind or current shift, so will your boat heading. When that happens, choose a different object off the port or starboard beam. Make a new entry in the boat log and pass the information along to your crew.

Learn to sail with confidence when you know the sailing skills you need for safe anchoring under power. Practice these sailing tips for peace-of-mind when you lower your sailboat anchor–wherever in the world you choose to cruise!

How Far Can I Sail in a Day?

How far you can sail in 24 hours? If you want to go on a sailing cruise, you need this sailing skill so that you can carry enough food, water, fuel, and sailing gear for your sailing crew. Use these simple sailing tips.

What type of sailboat do you sail?

Sailing speed depends on factors like weight (displacement), type of hull configuration (single or multi-hull), sailing ability of the boat in flat or choppy water, and how well the boat treats her crew (pitching like a bronco, or slicing through the water like a hot knife through butter?). Use this guide to estimate you expected speed over a day to help provision your small sailboat for cruising.

Displacement Cruising Sailboat Speed

Single hull, heavy cruising sailboats “displace” a certain amount of water. Imagine that you picked up a sailboat out of the water and the “water hole” the boat was in did not fill back in with water. The amount of water contained in that hole would about equal the advertised displacement of the sailboat.

For example, If a cruising sailboat has an advertised displacement of 28,000 pounds, then when in the water, she displaces that same amount of water. When sailing, she must push this amount of water out of the way. That creates a lot of friction and restricts the maximum speed that can be achieved.

To figure the maximum theoretical speed of a displacement sailboat, use this formula: 1.34 times the square root of the waterline. Multiply the result by 24 hours. This gives you the theoretical distance a displacement sailboat can cover each day.

First, locate the specifications for your sailboat or any other sailboat you are interested in. Look in the specification sheet, online, or in an advertisement. Here’s an example:

Oubound 44 Cruising Sailboat:

LOA 44’9″; DWL 40’3″, Beam 13’6″;

Draft 6’6″/5’6″; Displacement 28,000 lbs.;

Ballast 10,000 lbs.; Sail Area 1,083 sq, ft.

From the advertisement, you see that this Outbound sailboat has a displacement of 28,000 pounds. Determine her approximate maximum sailing speed with the formula for displacement sailboats. Follow these steps:

Find the square root of the Design Water Line (DWL) 40’03” = 40.25′. Square root of 40.25′ = 6.34 x 1.34 = 8.5 knots. Multiply 8.5 X 24 hours = 204 miles per day.

Remember this will always be just theory. Plan for those days when the winds are super light and your speed will be slower than the theoretical displacement speed. On the other hand, you will have days when you run downwind where you will exceed hull speed. The wise skipper will be ultra-conservative in his or her estimates. Some skippers of larger cruising boats would use a conservative estimate–like 150 miles per day–for sailing safety. That way, they can provision the boat with enough food, water, fuel, and sailing supplies for their crew. This covers unexpected events such as extra light or heavy sailing weather or crew emergencies.

Catamaran and Trimaran Sailboat Speed

Multi-hull (more than one hull) sailboats–called catamarans if they have two hulls, or trimarans if they have three hulls–have most of their hulls above the water. These boats are not slowed down as much by friction like their heavier displacement cruising cousins.

Big catamarans and trimarans can often exceed hull speed. Their speed over a sailing day depends on the sailing winds and seas. The sailing skipper may decide to slow the boat down while at sea (reefing or reducing sail) to avoid crew fatigue and boost crew comfort.

As recommended above, be conservative in your estimates–even in super fast cruising sailboats. Just because a boat can go fast all day long does not mean that her crew can. It’s a lot of wear and tear on a short-handed sailing crew to sail fast hour after hour. Some sailors of fast cruising boats like to plan for a maximum of 150 nautical miles per day for provisioning and arrival time estimates.

Other Sailing Speed Averages

Dinghy sailboats and small catamarans (i.e. Hobie Cat) skim across the water and have just a small amount of their hull beneath the water. This avoids most of the friction that heavy displacement cruising boats face. But, unlike cruising sailboats, dinghies have no room for lot of provisions–food, fuel, sailing gear, emergency sailing equipment–that you will need for sailing day after day when cruising.

So, unless you are that rare sailor who likes the smallest of accommodations, you will want to reserve sailing dinghies for day sailing trips. Day sailors go out for the day and return in the late afternoon or early evening. Plan you sailing so that you have plenty of time to make it back before darkness (unless you like sailing after dark–nothing quite like it!).

One plan would be to sail upwind or up current, beating or close reaching through most of the day. When it’s time to head back, you can then fall off to a comfortable broad reach or run. back to your marina or boat ramp. That way, you avoid a lot of hard tacking against the wind to make it back home.

Learn to sail with confidence when you know how to estimate how far you can sail in a day. Use these simple sailing tips to help plan and provision your next sailboat cruise–wherever in the world you choose to go sailing!

Sailing Navigation Secrets – Mark Your Nautical Chart With Magic Art!

Did you realize that you can make your chart easier to see, with less clutter? And that you can do this with simple office tools to save eye strain, make sailing navigation safer, and chart work easier? Use these easy steps for safer sailing navigation anywhere in the world.

Use “bright and bold” highlights to make vital chart symbols stand out.

Know exact locations of perfect anchorage spots before you arrive there.

Identify reliable depths compared to unreliable depths on your chart or plotter.

Tools You Will Need:


*Direction measuring instrument (parallel rules, Weems plotter).

*Yellow, orange, and blue highlighters.

*Colored blue, green, magenta pencils.

*Fine felt-tip pen.

*Scotch magic tape (permanent or removable.

Scan, Mark, and Protect Your Costly Charts

Master navigators always use a step by step process to plot their sailing routes, scan all along the sailing route for danger, and mark the most important spots like shoals, wrecks, emergency “pull-off-the-road” anchorages, and major aids to navigation that affect your sailing safety.

Follow these seven simple steps in the order shown anytime you plot a course for day sailing, cruising, or distance voyaging. It will keep you safe and you will have the confidence that you can see “at a glance” what lies ahead.

1. Use parallel rules or Weems plotter. Plot each course along your sailing route with light pressure with your pencil. Use light lines in this step. That way, if you need to erase, you can do this without effort or marring the chart.

2. Scan along each sailing course line to make sure the course does not cross over dangerous shoals or shallow depths. If it does, erase that leg and change it to a safer course or break it into two courses to avoid the hazard.

3. Use bright colored highlighters or colored pencils to make dangerous wrecks or important aids to navigation (buoys, lights, or landmarks) near the course.

4. Look for deep water pockets off the course line where you could anchor for rest or in an emergency. Make shoal depth contours stand out by tracing over them with a dark blue colored pencil (or similar marker).

5. Stay in water with a depth at least twice your draft. Coastal charts often show water depth contour lines in six foot increments that begin at 30 feet. That means the next depth contour would be 24 feet, then 18 feet, 12 feet, and 6 feet. Mark the outermost depth contour that’s equal to at least 2X your maximum draft.


If your draft is 5 feet, you should mark the 12 foot (or higher) contour curve. Set your depth sounder, GPS, or chart plotter alarm to trigger at that depth. This gives you time to turn the boat toward deeper water.

6. Check each course again for dangers. Recheck each plotted course to make sure the direction marked agrees with the direction indicated by your plotting tool. When satisfied, go to the final step.

7. Run a length of tape over the top of each of the light penciled course lines. Run your fingers over it several times to make sure it adheres to the chart surface. Lay a straight edge on top of the tape and darken in each course line with the felt tip marker. This makes your courses stand out in any light or weather condition.

Use your pencil to write the course in degrees magnet on top and the length of the course leg on the bottom of the line. When you label, write onto the tape. This protects the paper chart and the tape surface can be written on and erased as needed.

  1. Captain John’s Sailing Navigation Tip:
    How do you remove the tape when you’re done with the cruise? Use one of these two fast methods. Scotch makes a ‘removable magic tape’ brand. It isn’t as sticky but works well on a dry surface. Or, heat the edge of a blunt kitchen knife with a lighter. Run the knife along the tape and peel as you go. Keep the knife edge warm for best results.

Beware of Spotty Soundings!

Chart plotters fall far short of nautical charts when it comes to detailed soundings. Their small screen real estate forces the manufacturers to sacrifice detail in order to keep the screen uncluttered. This reason alone should be enough to convince any prudent skipper to carry navigational charts.

Scan your chart for signs of inconsistent or scattered soundings. Large gaps between soundings warn that this area hasn’t been surveyed well enough for safe sailing navigation. Keep clear of areas with spotty, inconsistent soundings to avoid grounding or hitting an underwater, uncharted obstruction.

Spoil areas (also called a fish haven or spoil bank) are where debris like garbage, old cars and trucks, and construction site material are dumped. Theses depths change all the time, so they will never be shown. Stay clear to stay safe!

Now you know the fast, easy way to get your chart set up for safe sailing navigation to save you time and effort once you go sailing.

Tips When Picking Boat Charters

David Hackert, president of Prestige Yacht Charters, says nothing beats boat charters when it comes to celebrating your special day, whether it is a birthday, an anniversary or a wedding. “Think about the weddings you have attended in the past. You celebrated, danced and went home,” he explains.

“A wedding on a yacht, however, could offer panoramic views, imposing skylines or even an exploration of serene inlets and coves. It would be an occasion your guests would remember for the rest of their lives.” There are many decisions to make when it comes to selecting from the diverse pool of luxury yachts but the benefits far exceed the initial effort.

Do you want to be a skipper? This is one of the first decisions to make when considering private a boat charter. If the answer is “yes,” then be prepared to hand over your boating resume to the charter company, which includes several years of experience sailing the size and type of boat you intend to charter. At Ebare, you can take an assessment to see if you are ready for smooth sailing and to see what your options are if you are not quite prepared.

You may need to take a few boating and safety courses before being allowed to hold supreme power aboard your private yacht. On the day of your charter, some companies may take you out on a demo cruise, where you will demonstrate your knowledge. If you flunk the demo, then the company will place a captain aboard your vessel. If, on the other hand, you pass your demo, then congratulations! You will be commanding your first bareboat charter.

If you are not sure about sailing the high seas on your own just yet, then a flotilla is one of the better intermediate boat charters you can take. In a flotilla, a fleet of 8-10 private yacht charters band together on an unforgettable adventure. A captain, chef, engineer and activities planner will sail on the lead yacht, offering assistance to anyone in the fleet who needs it.

You will essentially sail your own ship for the most part. Each morning you will be briefed on optional activities and group meals for the day, as well as where to meet for nighttime docking. Many travelers say this is the ultimate party, offering some of the best off-the-beaten-path experiences, with none of the anxiety of going it alone. Greece and the British Virgin Islands are popular places to link up with a flotilla.

The cost of boat charters is entirely up to you. Many beginners choose to hop aboard sailing yachts with a handful of other couples to offset the cost. Affordable trips can also be taken in a flotilla fleet, which offers a good middle-ground for relatively inexperienced sailors who still crave the privacy of their own boat. Smaller boats, sailboats and off-season trips all offer deep discounts.

Choosing an all-inclusive sailing vacation is a good way to prevent overspending on port stops, food or other unanticipated expenses. As you travel more and more, you will soon be ready to command your own boat, sail on luxury yacht charters or throw an extravagant party aboard a crewed yacht charter!